Japanese tales : Momotaro
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Momotaro

Momotaro's birth
Once upon a time an old man and woman lived in the mountains. Everyday the old man went to the mountain and collected firewood, while the old woman went to the river and did the laundry. One day, she was doing the washing when a big peach came floating down the river towards her. As it was a big and juicy-looking fruit, she thought that her husband would be glad to eat it so she took it home. When the old man came back for lunch and saw the nice peach, he was really happy. The old woman cut the big peach open with a knife. What a surprise! A lovely little boy was in the peach.

The old man and woman had no children so they were really grateful the gods had sent them a boy in this peach. Since he was born in a peach, they decided to call him Momotaro which means "peach-boy". The old woman cooked a meal for the little boy who ate as much as he could; the more he ate, the more he grew. Soon he became a tall and strong boy.

¥Õ¥é¥ó¥¹¸ì,French,Francais ÆüËܸì, Japanese, Japonais Chinese

No matter how tall or strong he was, Momotaro was a lazy boy. Day after day, all he did was sleep and eat. In the village the other boys went to the mountain and picked firewood while Momotaro was the only one doing nothing. This worried the old man and the old woman, so they asked the other boys to try to make Momotaro go and work with them.
The boys then invited him, "Momotaro, would you come with us? We're going to collect firewood."
But he answered, "I haven't a basket, so I can't go with you" and went back to sleep.
The following day, they invited him again, "Momotaro, would you come with us? We're going to collect firewood."
And he answered them, "I haven't any sandals, so I can't go with you" and went back to sleep. Upon hearing this, the old woman got angry with Momotaro for being so lazy, so the next day he went to collect firewood with the other boys.

While the boys were working and collecting firewood, Momotaro took a nap. When the work was finished, the boys decided to go back to the village. Just then, Momotaro awoke and said to them, "I'll collect firewood and come back with you."
They retorted, "If you start working now, we'll get back too late."
Momotaro turned a deaf ear to them and went to a very big tree. Holding it by the middle, he uprooted it. Astonishing! All the boys could not believe their eyes! Thus the tall and strong Momotaro carried the big tree, while the other boys carried bundles of firewood back to the village. The old man and the old woman were amazed when they saw Momotaro carrying this very big tree as if it was a mere bundle of firewood.
The county lord happened to hear about this and wished to meet Momotaro. The next day Momotaro went to see the county lord. The lord said to him, "Ogres have been threatening and robbing my peasants for a long time. If you are as strong as I heard, you shall go and punish them." Momotaro then agreed to go to the Island of Ogres.

¥Õ¥é¥ó¥¹¸ì,French,Francais ÆüËܸì, Japanese, Japonais Chinese

For his journey, the old man and woman baked some millet cookies and gave them to Momotaro. Away he went and on his way he met a dog.
Momotaro and the monkey
"Momotaro, where are you going?" asked the dog.
"To the Island of Ogres, to punish them."
"And what are you bringing with you?"
"The best millet cookies of Japan."
"Can I have one and go with you?" offered the dog. Momotaro gave the dog a cookie and they went along together.

Soon they met a monkey.

"Momotaro, where are you going?" asked the monkey.
"To the Island of Ogres, to punish them."
"And what are you bringing with you?"
"The best millet cookies of Japan."
"Can I have one and go with you?" offered the monkey. Momotaro gave the monkey a cookie and the three of them went along together.

Then they met a pheasant.

"Momotaro, where are you going?" asked the pheasant.
"To the Island of Ogres, to punish them."
"And what are you bringing with you?"
"The best millet cookies of Japan."
"Can I have one and go with you?" offered the pheasant. So Momotaro gave the pheasant a cookie too.

¥Õ¥é¥ó¥¹¸ì,French,Francais ÆüËܸì, Japanese, Japonais Chinese
They go the Island of Ogres

Momotaro, the dog, the monkey and the pheasant went together to the Island of Ogres by boat. They were sailing but could not see the island, so the pheasant went up in the sky. He found the island and guided the boat. Soon they landed on the Island of Ogres. There on the island was a great big castle with a huge door. It was tightly closed, but the monkey jumped easily inside and opened the huge door.
Momotaro entered and said to the ogres, who were having a feast, "My name is Momotaro, and I came to punish you." The ogres laughed at him, but the dog ran in and bit them as Momotaro fought using his sword. Momotaro and his companions, having eaten the best millet cookies of Japan, knew no fear and were strong. They go the Island of Ogres

At last the ogres cried for mercy, "We shall never be bad again, please spare our lives."

The defeated ogres gave Momotaro their treasure. He took it and returned with his companions, who had eaten the best millet cookies of Japan and helped defeat the ogres. The old man and the old woman, who had been worrying about Momotaro, welcomed them back cheerfully.
After that Momotaro and the old man and woman lived happily together.

Translated and adapted from Japanese by Myriam Dartois

Illustrated by Nobuteru Shiroshita


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